to move from one place, position, direction, etc., to another.
It’s okay for things to shift. This is what I keep telling myself, like using “shift” instead of “change” makes it hurt less. Or, I suppose, using “shift” instead of “end” makes it seem less final, like our friendship is simply in transition—that it’s not over.
The truth is that there has been a shift. My friendship with this woman, who I used to describe as hilarious, beautiful, and captivating, has moved from one place to another. It is no longer something present, but rather something of the past. It is something I’ve let go of, and something I think I am finally able to understand.
I now understand that friendships aren’t timeless; they aren’t invincible. They can easily be broken—just as hearts, as spirits, as glass. Our friendship finally shattered in the streets of New York City—a few hours from home, which meant the aftermath included a three hour train ride full of painful flashbacks and a genuine struggle to make sense of what the hell had just happened.
The details don’t matter—not for this story, anyway. All I know is that she let me down—in a profound way. Was it a betrayal? Maybe. A disappointment? Of course. I fault myself for being surprised. I should’ve seen the signs. I should’ve recognized the massive shift already taking place. I should’ve known the end was near.
I wrote to her a few years ago to let her know I was worried about her, scared. I was afraid the friend I had for over two decades, the friend I loved, was losing herself. I asked her to listen to me, not because I’d always done what I was telling her to do, but because I cared about her happiness, which she didn’t seem to have much of at the time. For one reason or another, I truly believed I had identified the changes she needed to make in her life so that she could be happy. Maybe this was arrogant of me, but I truly thought I could help. She didn’t listen, didn’t trust me. She didn’t believe she needed to make crazy, big, radical changes. She didn’t think she needed a new approach, didn’t think she needed to admit she’d been wrong—and had been wrong—for a while. She was lost, but she’d never admit it.
I wrote things like, “I wish you could understand how worried I am about you” and “I know what you’re capable of; I know what you have to offer.” I wanted her to own her flaws, embrace them. I wanted her to understand that she was sometimes moody, insecure, stubborn, jealous, bitchy, argumentative. I wanted her to know that even with those flaws, she was exquisite. And above everything else, she was worthy of love. I wanted her to shift into a better, more honest place. But more than all that, I wanted her to know that she wasn’t alone, that I was grateful for having met her all those years ago, and that all I wanted was for her to live—loudly and beautifully—and that I was right beside her.
Now we are here, and I am no longer beside her. Each time I realize this, something strange happens inside me. It’s like my insides are slowly shredding—like cheese along a metal grater. But with a little self-reflection, I realize that my insides are not shredding; they are simply adjusting. They’re trying to settle inside a body that has lost something.
My insides? Well, I suppose they’re just shifting.